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Chinese Navy reaches numerical parity with US

July 25, 2013

In 1997, the US Navy had 312 ships on its roster, to 101 for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).  Today, those number are 274 to 268.   While it is true that nearly 30% of the PLAN fleet is made up of older, outmoded vessels, it is also true that their fleet is concentrated in and around home waters, while the US Navy is divided among numerous global duty stations.   Both naval forces are supported by land-based forces – China from its mainland and the US from its network of bases in allied nations.  The US also enjoys the support of a wide array of allies both globally and locally in the Indo-Pacific.  Nonetheless, China is rapidly pursuing its goal of naval domination out to the Second Island Chain.  The PLAN may attain numerical superiority over US and allied nations before decade’s end; constrained by fiscal realities, the US will not be able to add ships, so it will have to rely on relatively cheap technological advancements such as unmanned vehicles, new generation long range missiles and other exotic fare to maintain hegemony over the Western Pacific.

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